At my age, life is all about upkeep. If it’s not my knee or shoulder needing physical therapy, then it’s my house needing new paint and a new roof. Today I had painters working on refreshing the trim paint. I asked them to come last year and somehow it took them over a year to get around to me. Perhaps moving all their ladders really slows them down.
I came out of the garage to find what looked like a tower of giraffes had taken over the driveway. Tomorrow these ladders will be joined by another gaggle when the roofers show up to start replacing the old shingles. When I asked the roofers what time they would show they told me six AM. I told them they will be alone, but I am not sure how long I will sleep with men walking on the roof.
The timing of all this is good since both Russ and Carter are away. Why should we all be disrupted by men climbing up and peering in the windows. I was up in the gathering room watching a you tube video about how to make a quilt when suddenly a face peered in every window all at once while they painted five windows. I felt a little guilty about sitting on the couch appearing to watch TV, but I did not feel that I needed to explain I was actually learning.
A few years ago Russ made a master list of major jobs that needed to be done as upkeep on our house. Before he left for his business trip he said, “You are doing a good job working your way through the ‘to do’ list. I told him I was not the one “working,” but I am hoping I can get it all done before everything wears out and has to be done again. As far as I can tell I am going to be spending my life just patch, patch patching.
While I was away on my grand tour I heard that I missed a heat wave of epic proportions in Durham. I saw on Facebook where local friends had posted the thermometer in their cars reading 104° to 110°. Numbers that made me thankful to be up in cool New England. Not that it was cool the whole time I was there and when it was hot they did not have air conditioning to hide in. The hottest day was one when we were in Boston. Carter was at orientation staying in a dorm without air conditioning. I hope she remembers how that felt when she is in the middle of a Boston winter.
I am not sure how I timed this right but I came home to the most glorious late July weather I can remember in 23 North Carolina summers. It was 67° degrees when I woke up this morning. Russ and I decided the most spiritual thing we could do on this perfect Sunday was take Shay up to the Eno for a cool summer walk. Since I need to get back on puritanical eating and exercising plans I thought this was the best way to ease back into real life.
We were hardly the only ones who thought that a nice walk in the woods besides a gently gurgling river was a good idea. But the coolness of the morning and the sunniness of the day made everyone we encountered along the trail just that much kinder and gentler. It was as if the government has suddenly started working effectively, everyone was so happy.
It was not the breakwater walk in Rockport which is my favorite way to get steps, but the climbing up and down the rocks and over fallen trees at the Eno was good for my backside. It was not the hills of Providence, but it was the coolness of a New England summer morning.
After our walk we wanted a healthy lunch where we could could sit outside with Shay. I am still craving New England seafood so we did the next best thing and went and had a salad at Zen Fish. A poke bowl with crab and crawfish tasted nothing like the chowders I had been eating, but then it was much better for me. I am not sure how I am going to substitute something healthy for the orange ginger molasses cookies I discovered in Maine. I may just have to try and recreate them and bake them for my NC friends so I can share a bit of Maine. I can’t afford to recreate the lobster rolls.
The last three weeks have been nothing but fun. I have gotten to see so many wonderful friends and have been going, going, going. I wouldn’t change any of it. Everyone was so generous and welcoming. I had fabulous meals, lots of laughs, great games and heart felt conversations. But after three weeks I was definitely Randy’s to go home. Be with a Russ and sweet Shay and sleep in my own bed and veg out.
I woke up at 5:45 At Karen’s in Providence and knew that I had to get on the road as fast as possible. It was Going to be a long twelve hour drive. Karen was so sweet to get up and see me off, but it was a good thing I went then because the traffic getting through Connecticut and New York was not so bad that early in the morning. Then I hit New Jersey and it got a little worried about getting home.
I listened to my book on tape, NPR, pod casts. I talked on the phone many times to Russ. I had a good thirty minutes with Carter on the phone. It all kept me going to push on me get home.
At last I got here me came in the house and Shay went crazy shaking and jumping up on me like she usually does when Russ comes home. I got the full on love treatment from her for twenty minutes and I realized this was the longest I had ever been away from her.
I am fully exhausted, but thrilled to be in my own bed with my sweet dog and my sweeter husband. Trips are great, but as Dorothy says, “There is no place like home.”
Day 18 and my last freeloading night with my wonderful high school friend Karen Brown in Providence, Rhode Island. I have had the best day visiting with her and walking her city. It was my shortest day of driving between friends so we had plenty of time to explore and talk, talk, talk. Since I had never been to Providence I had no idea it was so hilly. Karen and I got 14,503 steps today, but luckily we divided those up by stoping for lunch and dinner.
We lunched in a cute Swedish cafe and splint a sandwich. Since I was wearing my Northeastern t-shirt the nice young man behind the counter was extra good to us because he is going there in the fall as a freshman. He asked what my connection was to Northeastern and I told him my daughter was going in the fall too, but don’t worry Carter I did not embarrass you by telling him your name. For dinner we walked to a place called Red Stripe where we split an appetizer, salad and main course. After dinner we came back to Karen’s where we discussed my trip by the numbers.
I have been on the road for 18 days. Tomorrow will hopefully be the last at 19 if I can drive the 12 hours home to Durham. In total I drove about 39 hours and went about 2,000 miles. I walked 174,841 steps in the last 18 days which I never would have done without the kindness of friends willing to walk with me. On the other hand we will not speak of the calories eaten.
I visited 34 friends; nine from Dickinson College, 7 from the Ethel Walker School years, 4 family relations, 3 Boston Friends, and 11 people who are family members of my friends, who I now also consider friends.
I have 10 thank you notes to write to all the kind people who put me up, fed me meals, took me out and entertained me. And now the awards:
For the most items cooked for meals she served me the award goes to Nancy Mack Von Euler. There were at least 15 different items cooked just for one salad.
For the person who had me cook the most, the winner is Warren Erickson, who could not be beaten in this category since I spent the most time at his house.
For the most games played with me the winners are the Suzanne Worden, Steve and Jack Farley for twos night of bridge, that made me crave playing bridge again.
The award for making her husband have lunch with me on his birthday, even though he didn’t know me, goes to Julie Williams Wagner and her husband “Larry Chip.”
For the most collaborative puzzle partner the winner is Janet Nathenson Del Valle who could always find the hammer piece when I was looking for it.
The award for the person who met me the furthest from home goes to Rena Ronson for meeting me in NYC from LA.
The cutest baby hands down goes to Sawyer Ryan and the best new parents are Cory and Eric.
The best sneaky way to pick up the check at every meal goes to Stori Stockwell Cadigan.
The meal splitter award goes to Karen Appel Brown who allowed me to taste more yummy things without guilt.
Person who came the longest distance to take a walk on the hosptest day goes to Karen Polcer Bdera.
Best political discussion goes to Jamie Kyte Sapoch who always knows how to phrase things in kindness.
Best fast draw at picking up the check goes to Steve Kohn, who always takes me and Wendy to French Bistros so we can pretend we are still in France together.
Best Broadway musical companion was Wendy Yazusian who can still sing better than most broadway performers.
Finally to best family members who are storing Carter’s college stuff until she can get to Boston in January, the award goes to Andrea and Micheal Lange.
All in all it has been a most fun trip getting to catch up, visit, play, eat and talk with so many old friends. Total years I have known all these people is 912 years and that is in people years. I have to count myself as one lucky person to call them my friends.
I left Maine this morning, bidding farewell to Clam Cove until next summer when I invite myself again to Warren’s. As usual the visit was too short. We did not get done the organization chores of his extensive collections that we always talk of doing. This just means I will need to keep returning until we get around to it.
I am on my last lap of this east coast road trip and I saved some very good friends for the return trip. Today I drove back to Manchester by the sea to spend the day and night with my Dickinson friend Janet Nathenson Del Valle, her husband Frank and her youngest daughter Isabel. I love seeing Janet because there is hardly a moment where we are not laughing or telling stories.
As a professional freeloader I am quite appreciative of the hospitality that all my friends have shown me when I come and camp out at their houses, but it can be tiring to be constantly visiting. With Janet it has been nothing but relaxing. She had a big puzzle started and we immediately sat down and began to work the complicated piece.
Turns out we are very compatible puzzle solvers. “I’m looking for a green piece with three innies and one outie that has a bit of pink,” I would say. And Janet would put her hands right on it and place it in its rightful spot. When we were looking for a very odd shaped piece Janet’s standard response was, “I’ve seen that one.”
Frank kept saying, “Have you finished the puzzle yet?” He did not know how hard a puzzle can be. We took an eye break so we could eat the yummy dinner Janet made of Indian inspired chicken and vegetables with a coconut cilantro lime sauce. I was especially thankful for a healthy meal void of sugar.
After dinner Frank did the dishes so Janet and I could sit side by side and work the puzzle. I told her it was a good thing we did not do puzzles in college because we never would have done any studying if we had. It was a most relaxing way to catch up. I have to say that I have not had a moment of boredom on the whole trip. My only sadness is that I eventually need to sleep when I would rather be spending time talking.
There just isn’t enough time in life to visit with all the friends I love. I hope that my friends will let me repay their hospitality and come and stay with me. Guests should always leave before their host wishes they were gone, but seeing Janet one night is just too short, especially since we have to finish the puzzle before I go.
My last full day in Maine and I tried to pack in as much as possible and I am still not ready to go. I was heading up to Northport to spend a couple hours with my Walkers/Dickinson/Pi Phi friend Jamie Kyte Sapoch when I got a message from Lynn Toms in Durham. Her sweet Wheaton Millie passed away from cardiac arrest this morning. I was in the middle of no cell service Maine and I finally got a signal to call her.
Poor Lynn could hardly talk because her heart is so broken. No one loves animals more than Lynn and Millie was the one she loved the best. I wish I were there to help ease the pain, but Lynn knows that I am sending lots of psychic hugs. If you know Lynn, reach out to her. The loss of a dog is almost the hardest thing to face.
After that series of sad calls I pulled into Jamie’s sweet house on the beautiful Maine coast. John, her husband and my Dickinson classmate was there as was her grown daughter Emily. Jamie and I went to sit in the Adirondack chairs right at the waters edge with big Maine pottery mugs of yummy iced tea.
It was a great couple of hours of catching up, philosophizing, talking about life’s stages. Jamie has always been someone I looked up to since she was two years head of me in school and seemed to be just that much more with it. I realized that she is my only friend who I went to both high school and college with and was in the same sorority. Jamie has always been both fun and thoughtful at the same time and that is not always a combination that goes together. Before I left Jamie gave me a heart shaped rock. It was such a treasure I will cherish.
After our visit I returned to Belfast, Maine. When I was there on Sunday with Russ and Warren I went into a sewing and art store. They had a lot of quilting fabrics and I was immediately drawn to them. Since I had two men waiting for me I didn’t entertain the idea of thinking about making a quilt, but today I was alone and had plenty of time.
I stopped first at a little place called Daily Soup to get something to eat so I could shop without any fear of low blood sugar. I had a bowl of curried vegetable soup and it was divine. Just what I needed to counteract my Portland day of food. Then I was off to the Fiddlehead Artisan.
It had been a long time since I had done any quilting so decided to pick out a simple pattern just so I had a guide about how much fabric to buy. Then came the difficult part, deciding which of the fabulous fabrics I wanted to get. I spent over an hour, which I felt like was a very long time, until the shop girl told me that I was very decisive and she had a customer yesterday who took five hours. I might have lost my mind if I had taken that long.
Having this bag of fabric in the back of my car now gives me something big to be excited about going home for besides Russ and Shay. When anyone asks me, “What are you going to do when Carter goes away to college?” I can say, “I’m making a quilt.”
Jamie asked me if I was ever bored and I honestly had to say that there is hardly a minute in the day to be bored. There are so many friends to see, projects to do, art to create, food to cook, words to write and people to help, let alone trips to take and places to see. If I just work on all the things I have going already I will still not finish before I die at the ripe old age of 99.
Tonight is my last dinner in Maine and there is a crowd of a dozen people coming to Warren’s. It has been a very fast week as Maine weeks tend to be. I am already missing rocking on the porch on Clam Cove. Thanks to Warren for his enduring hospitality.
Years ago when a Russ, Carter and I were on a trip through Portland we tried to go eat at a great local restaurant called Duck Fat. Although we knew it was a highly rated place we did not think that we would have to wait more than four hours for a table. Needless to say we did not wait to eat that day.
Fast forward seven or so years and I finally got to have lunch at Duck Fat with my friend Warren and the only bad part was Russ and Carter were missing it. Duck Fat is known for its Belgian type French fries cooked in the namesake oil. You have your choice of five sauces and Warren and I got the horseradish mayo to share with our small fries. Of course it was not my sauce of choice since I wanted the Thai Chili Mayo, but Warren’s choice was delicious. If we had gotten the large we could have had two sauces, but that would have involved more guilt than I needed. Sharing a small was the right way to go.
We skipped their famous milk shakes and I had a special very small house smoked salmon salad with squash and strawberries. It sounds like a strange combination but it worked well. Warren had a turkey panini because he is a very white man. All good.
Since we had not eaten breakfast and had such Presbyterian sized servings at lunch Warren and I decided we deserved a cookie while we walked up and down the hills of Portland. We searched out a molasses ginger cookie amongst the many bakeries in the city. Portland is known for bakeries and breweries. We had no guilt about going into a bakery and looking around and leaving without purchasing if we did not find the exact right cookie.
After four miles of walking we ended up settling on one from a place called Two Fat Cats that was just across the street from Duck Fat. It is not lost on me that Fat is in the name of both places. It was a fine cookie, just not as good at the Orange Julius ginger Cookie we had on Sunday in Belfast, from the antique/book and coffee shop. I have no business eating these cookies and I blame this all on Warren. It is a good thing I am only visiting him for a week in the summer. Now I just have to ween myself off sugar again.
One fabulously healthy thing I did have at Duck Fat was the special spritzer of the day, a lime and cucumber number with soda water. It was light and refreshing so I recreated it tonight back at Clam Cove with a little diet ginger ale. Time to cleanse.